“How do I learn photography? Are there any good schools near my home? Are there any good courses that can make me a good photographer? Which are some of the good books to learn photography?”
Endless questions on these related doubts can be found across all forums and among all people trying to improve their photography skills. Trust me when I say that the best photography school is there with you. Take your camera out, click pictures, experiment and hone your skills. The whole process should be enjoyable and not something forced. Each click is a learning experience. Every photograph teaches us something new. Henri Cartier Bresson has rightly said – “The first 10,000 photographs are your worst”.
There are many good photography schools in almost every major city of every country. I have seen the curriculum and interacted with various students. They do a wonderful job at building the foundation. The basics of exposure, technical aspects of photography equipment, standards, working on image editing programs and other required information is provided by all of them. Some of them also introduce the concepts related to fine-arts, the nuances of images and a peek into the masterpieces. However none of them can create your vision for you. It is your way of seeing things and your identity. Don’t loose it to set rules and boundaries of photography. The best school is your own will to experiment and learn.
I recommend books by Ansel Adams (The Camera, The Negative, The Print) which are still as relevant today as they were in the film days (Ansel Adams – His Influence). I have also recommended various other books, from time to time to different levels of photographers but there is something that comes for free. One of the best books that is missed by most, is the user manual of the camera itself. Do pick it up and go through it. Camera manufacturers have dedicated teams working for making this manual. The content provided can be a big help at times when it comes to getting the most out of your camera (Knowing my camera). After the user manual comes the first book on photography that catches your fancy. Most of the titles available on Amazon when you search for fundamentals or basics of photography, are good. Any book which you will actually read will be the best book on photography for you.
I wrote a basic article on understanding exposure. This covers shutter speed, aperture, ISO. If you are just beginning with photography, do check it out – Basics of Exposure
I conduct photography courses from time to time (Photography Courses). These are short two week photography courses which people consider as a vacation and course combined into one. Are they good? Yes, definitely. Are they the best? No. The best course on photography is again learning by experimentation. Nothing teaches a person more than actually taking the camera out and clicking photographs. Photowalks are also a great opportunity to learn something new (Photowalks).
There are good sources of information available now on the internet. Log out of facebook, twitter and whatever forums you are a part of (Time Management & Photography). Spend that time learning about whatever interests you. Information is there on the internet for you to consume.
There are no shortcuts to any learning. It is the same with photography. Interestingly, I have been getting requests from visitors to this site asking me to teach them all about composition, exposure, photoshop and various other things in a single short email or reply. One visitor wanted me to teach him everything about photography in an email. Sadly, unlike the film Matrix, uploading information directly to the brain is still not a reality.
For those of you who skipped the above article and directly reached this part, these are the three steps to becoming a good photographer –
- Read the camera’s user manual and know your camera.
- Learn the basics (from any photography book you can pick at your local bookstore or purchase online). This might also help – Basics of Exposure
- Take your camera out and start photographing.
Some words to ponder upon –
“I have often thought that if photography were difficult in the true sense of the term -meaning that the creation of a simple photograph would entail as much time and effort as the production of a good watercolor or etching – there would be a vast improvement in total output. The sheer ease with which we can produce a superficial image often leads to creative disaster.” – Ansel Adams